KonMari is the new Carpe Diem

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It all started with the wish for freedom and a desire to travel. While it seems like only yesterday, five years ago I finally completed my bachelor’s degree after a 15-year marathon quest to acquire an education. The best-laid plans are always those fate chooses to detour the unsuspecting into some unforeseen fulfillment. The original plan was that I would complete my master’s degree in New York, providing me with the employment leverage to be able to pull in an income that would allow me to finally move out of state in pursuit of the PhD.

Although I have finally achieved the master’s degree and it was completed in New York, I no longer have the desire either to move or to pursue the PhD. However, part of that original plot was the seed that also started my journey into minimalism. In anticipation of a large inter-state move, my purpose was to decrease all my possessions that were duplicates or frivolous. I did not want to take everything I owned on such a journey.

In 2011, I closed my storage unit. Everything that was in the unit I moved into my house so that I could begin the process of downsizing to be able to move. That means that literally everything I own is currently in my house. This includes all photos, mementos, and other paraphernalia from growing up; there is nothing in storage at any relatives’ house. While closing the storage unit and moving everything into my house provided me with much anxiety over the increase in the amount of clutter, the immediate gratification was that I was no longer wasting money to store items that were not in every day use.

Not only are storage units a huge waste of money, but also according to some studies, there is currently enough storage spaces and storage units in this country to be able to provide every homeless person with housing. If only we would close our storage units and find a way to keep all of our belongings within the walls of our housing abode.

I have always viewed my minimalist journey as a work-in-progress. While the goal was freedom and travel, I did not anticipate what life would be like at the end of the minimalist journey. I fully embraced minimalism as a lifestyle change, and have been surprised and delighted at some of the unintended consequences in my feelings and psyche that this journey has brought to my life.

I have voraciously read about minimalism, and picked and chose which tenets are helpful for me and those that are not, as I have forged my own individual journey. These past few months, I have, in fact, begun to wonder: “when does it end,” and “what happens when it does.”

The past five months I have been on the waiting list for Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and it was finally my turn this week to read the novel. I was a little skeptical at first. Some of the bestsellers I have read recently, I found to be extremely disappointing and do not understand their widespread popularity. Also, I consider myself to be rather well read on the topic of minimalism and was skeptical if Kondo would be able to add anything to what I already know.

I was wrong. I completely understand why this book is so popular. Kondo offers a fresh perspective with a unique point-of-view when it comes to minimalism. So fresh, that the novel reminds me of why I started on this journey and has helped me to see the end and the end result.

I plan to go all KonMari on my own ass.

While I have to return the book back to the library in a few weeks, I will definitely be re-reading the book before I do so and may even purchase it to serve as my guide over the next several months. My goal is now to KonMari my life for 2016 and for my minimalist journey to reach a destination so that I am able to life the life I envision.

Over the past five years, I have grown stagnant in my minimalist journey. I have lost sight of my goals of freedom and travel. It is time to realign with my goals and to work to achieve them. Kondo reminded me of the purpose for my minimalist journey, and to that I say: KonMari is the new Carpe Diem.

The concept that struck me the most was that if one looks at minimalism as a journey, one will never arrive. Yet, broad, sweeping, widespread changes will enact a butterfly effect that touches every aspect of our lives. I am hoping to put her premises into effect in my life over the coming months so that I may experience joy on a daily basis and start living the life I envision.

Sometimes we become stuck in our ways of doing and our ways of being and it takes some sort of wake up call for us to see that we have become mired in gunk. Kondo’s book was just the type of shot in the arm that I needed to be able to redefine my life and kick-start my goals.

I have always had the goal of being able to travel to Europe and to backpack through the various countries. Now that school does not tie me down, I am able to move forward making life changes that will help me to realize my goal. Once we put our house in order, everything else comes into order as well.

How will you carpe diem?

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Pre-Gaming the 2016 Running Season

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Here in the northeast, running season 2016 officially opens in April. The Boston Marathon is the kickoff of the year, as crowds line the streets to cheer and to celebrate the sacrifice and diligence that went into training for such a rigorous course over the hard winter months. Registration for fall races typically opens in April, and runners eagerly plan their training schedules and hope to get that BQ or PR. As I look forward to the opening day of running season with glee, here are the areas that are receiving my attention in the off-season.

Music

One of the small pleasures that I allow myself each season is that I add 5 new songs to my runningpod at the start of the year. I am not big on digital music, as I prefer to have a tangible album that I can admire as a work of art, but I do have a small screenless iPod that has replaced my cassette walkman for running. Adding five new songs each season is one of my small guilty pleasures that helps with the motivation factor in the dull, grey days of winter.

My most significant addition to my thoughtfully curated running list this year is the fact that, after 14 medals, I have a new running theme song  that is now in regular rotation on my runningpod. This song actually came from a CD that I already own, so while I will be adding 5 new songs this season, not all of those songs need to be purchased. Having new music on my runningpod helps me to drag myself to the gym to be tortured by the freakmill (my term of endearment for treadmill) when there is too much ice and snow to run the trails. New music also helps me to push through hard workouts, as I incorporate cross-training and push my body in ways other than endurance during the off-season.

Nutrition

Pre-gaming the 2016 running season is also the time to evaluate nutrition to ascertain that I am receiving the proper fuel to be able to sustain a grueling training program and race season. Fueling both before and after workouts is important, as is what you eat on rest days. We cannot expect to be top producing athletic machines if we put crap into our bodies and do not fuel with good nutrition choices to be top performing athletes. In addition to Gatorade and gels, it is about the choices we make for each meal and snack that aid in muscle recovery and ensure that we are ready and pumped to perform when needed.

This year, I am making changes to my post-run snack list. Juggling multiple food allergies the past few years has been particularly challenging, and it has taken me quite a while to get to the point where I can handle them in stride. I have snacks planned for the 2016 running season that will not only give me the proper carb/protein balance needed for optimal muscle recovery, but hopefully also provide enough variety so that I do not get bored with what I am eating.

When I first started running, I did not have food allergies. All of my food allergies have been adult on-set, so making changes to this area of my life has taken a back burner to the crisis of trying to figure out what to eat on a daily basis. Now that I have had some time and experience with managing my food allergies, I feel I am able to make better choices in my food selections to be sure that not only am I eating food that will not kill me, but I can make choices to ensure that I am properly fueled to be a top performing athlete.

This season, I plan on adding more variety to my diet. I often feel that my food choices are limited given my multiple food allergies. However, now that I am retired, I have discovered that there are so many foods to which I am not allergic with which I can experiment and find creative ways to prepare. My goal is to try at least one new recipe per month to be able to give me a wider variety of foods to eat to be sure I am receiving proper nutrition. I have also recognized that I tend to stick with the same fruits and vegetables routinely. I am hoping to be able to expand the variety of fruits and vegetables that I eat this year and to truly incorporate the entire rainbow of produce.

Cross-Training

Perhaps my most favorite form of cross-training is boxing and martial arts. However, after multiple head injuries combined with a lack of funds for ring fees, I now have to seek alternate options for cross-training. Add to this the fact that I have some specific areas of my body that are in need of strengthening to prevent the type of injury that seriously sidelined me in the 2015 running season.

This year, I am focusing more on strength training and plyometrics. Plyometrics should address the specific body areas that contributed to last year’s injury. Strength training is crucial for all runners. As I get older, I am discovering more and more how beneficial strength training is for my life. Most weight equipment was designed to accommodate a 150-pound male. Given that I am an approximate 100-pound female, I intend on focusing on free weights instead of machines for my strength training. Not only can I do this at home, but also it saves me from trying to fit into weight machines that were not designed for someone of my size.

Balance and flexibility are usually lacking in runners and often contribute to injury. In addition to all the surfing I plan to do this summer, which helps with balance, I am also incorporating some yoga and pilates into my routine to help with balance and flexibility. The goal for the 2016 running season is to run well and to remain injury-free. Now that I have more free time than ever before, I am hoping to incorporate more play into my day and to be active in different, fun ways that use a variety of muscle groups.

Clothing/Run Wear

On one of my recent minimalist sprees, I was quite surprised to find that I had three storage bins full of running wear and running related paraphernalia. I literally had at least one, if not multiple, shirts from pretty much every race I have ran. Some of them were t-shirts and some of them were technical, wicking shirts. I decided that my medals are much more a reflection of my accomplishments and meaningful to me than any t-shirt could ever be.

I went through all three bins and got rid of all but my most favorite shirts. I also went through all of my running gear currently in use and realized how ratty some of my technicals have become after being constantly drenched in sweat, even after having been washed in sports wash and air dried. I took this purging as the opportunity to replace the well-worn technicals with some of my race technicals that have pretty much just been hanging out in a storage bin. What is the point of having a bunch of race technicals if I am not going to wear them?

Now, every time I go for a training run, I can celebrate my accomplishments by wearing one of my race technicals. Plus, it serves as a reminder of the reward that is waiting at the end of a long and hard training season. It makes me feel like I have an entirely new running wardrobe when all I did was to start using what I already had in storage. What is the point of storing something unless you are going to use it? Now my goal is to put all new race technicals immediately into rotation and to remove any items that are smelly or ratty. No matter if you always use sport wash and air dry your running clothes, there comes a point when they are just smelly and nothing will remove the stench of sweat from well-used workout clothes.

I no longer have three storage bins of run wear. All of my running clothes are currently out and in current rotation. While I have updated other aspects of my running gear, like rotating shoes every 300-500 miles, I had neglected to update running shorts and running shirts. I am pretty sure that some of that old smelly ratty run wear that went to the rag pile are from almost 10 years ago when I first started running. It was definitely time to start using what I already have available.

Conclusion

Now that I have been retired for a few months and have taken the opportunity to relish in my newfound free time, I realize that the beauty of rewinding real slow is that I now have the time to focus on the things that are most important to me. I have time in my life to be able to focus on running and cross-training so that I can get through a running season uninjured. I have both the time and the energy to put into making 2016 the best running season yet. I’m looking forward to it.

 

Get a Real Life

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It seems the old adage “get a haircut & get a real job” has a modern day incantation as “get off the internet & get a real life.” As an update on the technology post  that I did this summer, here is where I stand on my progress to divorce the world wide web of drama, misery, & illusions.

I made significant progress this fall towards getting off the internet & getting a real life when I made changes to both my cell phone & internet carriers that resulted in over $100 a month savings.

First, I evaluated my needs and what I actually use the most to effectively communicate. While I had initially planned to completely disconnect home internet, a friend whom I deeply admire made the convincing argument that internet is now a utility as much as electricity or water and that without it, I would be severely cut off from human interaction. While my focus is on in-person dynamics, there is some truth to the notion of internet as utility when one considers that the internet delivers more information than traditional media forms of TV, radio, and newspaper.

Again, this brought me back to the quality of my interactions through use of technology. I quickly realized that I was paying an awful lot of money for very slow service that was constantly dropping and restarting itself trying to find a connection. My largest consumption of media came through the fact that I was streaming radio to the tune of 8-10 gigs per month. I was able to use functions provided by my carrier’s online account to ascertain that my radio streaming was basically what I was paying almost $200 a month to use. I had a plan that allowed me 450 minutes of talk time – of which I typically used less than 30 minutes, unless I had medical or other significant things going on that required phone calls. I was using less than 200 texts per month. I was essentially paying almost $200 a month for radio. This was not even satellite radio. I am pretty sure I could have gotten satellite radio cheaper, and honestly, why pay for radio when it is FREE?

A long time ago, in another lifetime, I worked in radio. I know how the radio world works. Why was I paying so much for radio?

So, I changed both my cell phone and internet carriers and now pay just over $50 a month for both services. I literally cut that bill down to one-fourth of what I was paying. I have plenty of local radio stations that I can listen to on my home radio for free without needing to stream. The internet service that I now have is not only cheaper but also significantly FASTER – yes, faster – than my old carrier, plus it is unlimited. Yup, that’s right. When I was paying a certain company almost $200 a month, I had a cap on my internet usage. It was not the “your service will slow down” type of cap. It was a “your service will completely stop unless you want to pay 99 cents per minute” kind of cap.

While I am now saving money, and getting faster service that is unlimited, you would think I would use technology more.

But, I’m not. I’m using it less.

That extra money is great. I am able to take that $100 a month and comfortably pay all my bills, where before I was stretched very thin with no wiggle room. Now, I have a little wiggle room, and if I want to spend some quality time in-person having lunch with someone, I can go out to lunch without guilt (over money).

But when I cut the cord to that antiquated, overpriced internet plan, I also cut the cord that was binding me to all the drama and misery that came with a continual online presence. I went from using 8-10 gigs of data per month down to 1-2 gigs. That’s a significant downshift. Not streaming radio anymore is helpful, and I still hear all my favorite tunes. Since I am not using my phone to listen to radio, I notice that I have no desire for social networking platforms either. Phones work two-ways. If people want to talk to me or see me, they can call or text to check in. I now have unlimited calling and texting on my phone too that had been capped under my previous carrier.

Going offline has helped me to be more present in my everyday life and interactions. It has significantly decreased both my stress and my anxiety levels. I feel peace that I rarely feel unless I purposefully drive myself out to the middle of nowhere to escape the reach of a cell tower to feel.

I have been reading voraciously and averaging 3-4 novels per week depending on my work and home obligations. I am able to put more planning time into meals, which has been helpful in managing my severe food allergies. I have been able to listen to my body more closely so that I can be better prepared for the 2016 running season and hopefully get through my fall marathon uninjured. If I need the internet to look up a recipe, or simply want the internet to stream music, movies, or TV, it is there, but I am not tethered to it.

I am, in fact, living a good life.

Not only have I finally finished school after a 20-year career as a professional student, but also I have finally broken up with my dependence on the internet for external validation. I have found that when I do not have that background of mindless chatter that I am able to self-validate easier. My internal compass is clearer and I can hear my own voice easier.

Today, we hear people saying that people quitting facebook is the new version of running away from home. People say they are going to quit, and do for a few weeks, but then they are always back because they cannot stay away. Instead of running away from home, wouldn’t it be easier if we were to stay, stand, and confront life? While technology has the capability to complement our existence, sometimes we need to get off the internet and get a real life. An online presence is not the be-all and the end-all to life. There are moments that cannot be experienced online, but must be felt, seen, and lived with our hearts and souls.

 

 

For Better or For Worse

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Many people today seem to stick around for the better and disappear at the worst. They say to truly find out who your friends are: screw up and see who is still there for you. Then, there are the people who are there for you when you are down but leave when you are up because they enjoy wallowing in misery and simply cannot stand to see other people happy.

While earlier generations seemed to embrace the for-better-or-for-worse notion more whole-heartedly than our own, it is an important concept to apply to all areas of life, from relationships to hobbies to passion.

After spending almost four months on the waiting list for the oh-so-popular Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, it has finally been my turn to have the novel out of the library. I have spent those past four months reading reviews and blogs of people not only mentioning the book but also downright gushing over it.

I finally read the book, and while it is certainly not my favorite, I stuck through the entire novel, for better or for worse, and read the entire thing. There were times in the beginning of the book where I almost put it down and stopped reading because it was not interesting to me, but I thought that there has to be some reason why this novel is now so wildly popular, and I was determined to find out why.

So I stuck through the worst part of the book, and it finally did get better. About the last 100 pages of the novel were okay. Perhaps the idea that stuck with me the most, simply because it so clearly articulated an idea that I have been struggling to find words to describe over the past 20 years has been the idea of the Shit Sandwich.

That’s right, Shit Sandwich.

According to Gilbert, the essence of shit sandwich in a nut shell can be boiled down to how much suffering you are able to endure in order to achieve what you love. Of course, this is an extreme simplification of the concept, and if you would like to have a more elegant explanation, then you simply have to read the book. The pages explaining shit sandwich were probably the most profound part of the novel for me, and I could personally leave much of the rest. Basically, the concept of for-better-or-for-worse applied to all areas of your life, not just a marriage ceremony or some other type of elaborate rite of passage.

I had a brief moment of weakness a few weeks ago when the reality of being retired from spending 20 years as a professional college student finally set in and I completely panicked. It was something like a baby who did not want to be born but wanted to return to the womb. I sat there pleading and plotting about how to return to school, and what type of degree I wanted next. I sat there and thought that before completing my psychology degree, I had started a physics degree. I spent three years as a physics major before deciding, after taking calculus 1,2,3,4 and differential equations, that I had had enough of math and did not want the physics degree anymore.

I was not prepared to eat the shit sandwich that accompanied pursuit of a physics degree. I was in physics for the better portion. I love astronomy and motion and dynamics, and particle physics. However, I was not able to deal with the for worse portion of having another four advanced math classes to take after the five I had just completely suffered through.

I then decided that I could not go back to school to finish the physics degree. Not only am I not committed to eating the shit sandwich, but I also already have four degrees, and while I would not trade any of the degrees or any moment I spent working on obtaining them for the world, I do not, in fact, wish to relive that portion of my life. That is simply not my flavor of sandwich.

But now that I personally grasped the notion of for-better-for-worse and read about shit sandwiches, I started to apply that idea to other areas of my life. For example, I am not a morning person. Pretty much everyone who knows me in real life knows better than to wake me up in the morning. I am a night owl and always have been. I have spent over a decade on either second or third shift; the few brief years I did have a day job was hell on earth for me. I am just not a day person.

However, I have absolutely no problem getting up at 4:30 am and spending hours preparing for and running a marathon. When it comes to running, the shit sandwich that is getting up at 4:30 am is something that I am not only willing to eat gleefully, but also has me coming back for more. There is no other aspect in my life in which I am willing to eat the shit sandwich of 4:30 am, but for running, I am.

You see, running and I have this special relationship. I will wake up at 4:30 am. I will run in the rain, the snow, the cold, and the heat. I will run when it’s hard. I will run when it’s easy. I am in love with running, and over the years, I have definitely been able to take the good with the bad.

Once I found degree programs that were the right fit for me, I did the same with school. I spent years only sleeping from 2am-6am to ensure that I was able to complete all my schoolwork in addition to piecing together multiple jobs to make ends meet. I sacrificed many relationships and much leisure time in my pursuit of education. I swallowed that shit sandwich hook, line, and sinker for 20 years.

The significance of reading Gilbert’s Big Magic for me was the realization that now I am in retirement, I have the option of choosing what flavor of shit sandwich I want to eat next. I have been trying to figure out what to do with the ridiculous amount of time I now have on my hands since I am no longer working 70 hours a week and trying to be a full-time grad student.

I have been trying to decide what type of activities I want in my life. Do I want to join a club? Do I want to volunteer my time? With each option I have considered, I have begun to think of what flavor shit sandwich I want to eat. Now that my time is my own, I am less likely to eat shit sandwiches than I have before. Call it growing up, call it privilege, but I have found myself deeply protective of my newfound time.

What new activity do I want to try for better or for worse? Where am I willing to put my time? I have no problem with failure. It is possible I will decide on a volunteer opportunity and then discover that I am not prepared for that shit sandwich. That is fine. I will find another activity. However, I am trying to make an informed decision on how to not only enrich my own life but also enrich those around me.

Now that my time is my own, how do I want to fill those hours? What fills me with so much passion that it will endure for-better-or-for-worse? As we slow down our lives, this is the type of first-world problem we create. How best to spend our leisure time to ensure that our time is exactly that – leisure. It’s a wonderful problem to have.

When we identify that which we are able to live with for-better-or-for worse, not only do we make ourselves happy, but also we increase the love that is in the world. Relationships, activities, places, employment are all areas of life in which we can apply the for-better-or-for-worse principal. When we identify the areas that we are able to make that commitment, not only does it make the shit sandwich palatable, it also makes it almost delicious.

The people, activities, and relationships that stay in our lives for-better-or-for-worse are those that will likely last a lifetime. I don’t know about you, but that is the type of Big Magic I want to have in my life.

 

 

 

 

Demon Snuggling

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In my efforts to downsize and minimize, some items are easier to evaluate and part with than others. The two criteria by which I usually decide an item’s placement in my life is if it is useful or if it brings me joy. Perhaps the items most difficult to go through, not only for myself, but also for anyone are sentimental items. While not useful, sentimental items tend to fall under the category of “joy.”

It is completely understandable. The coffee mug that reminds you of your Alma Mater, or the quilt your now-deceased grandmother made by hand are items to treasure because they make your heart sing. While these points seem obvious, what is perhaps more difficult to understand is the phenomenon I will dub “demon snuggling.”

I recently got down and dirty “demon snuggling,” and am happy to declare that I am demon snuggling no more.

These past few weeks, I decided to go through the “stuff from growing up” box. Most everyone has one. Parents usually save items that were significant from childhood including baby shoes, report cards, art projects, teddy bears, and other well-loved items that usually make their way into adulthood. If you have children, then this entourage grows, as most parents tend to keep a box of precious belongings for their children in turn.

While for most people, these are happy memories, for me they were not. I had a less than stellar childhood, and I prefer to leave it behind. I am proud of the fact that I overcame some challenging circumstances, but I do not need the reminder of that triumph locked in a box to peruse for the rest of my life.

So, I got in down and dirty for some demon snuggling and was able to reduce that box from an approximate 50-quart storage bin down to an approximate 10-quart storage bin. While earlier in the fall, I looked to the future in Playing Dress Up , this winter I dealt with the past by demon snuggling.

A 50-quart box of things from growing up is not something I would ever want to cart with me if I move. Yet, and I am sure most of you would agree, it’s not something I want to get rid of completely either. Some things like your first Winnie the Pooh always stay with you.

For better or for worse, sentimental items are perhaps the most difficult items to downsize. There is so much emotion attached. In demon snuggling, I had a lot of starts and stops to the process, as I had to process through pain in order to part with some items. The pain, however, was good, as I was able to kick some major negativity to the curb. However, it is almost always easier to snuggle with your demons than to face them.

Many of the items that were shed, I took photos of them and uploaded those photos to the cloud. I am perfectly fine with looking at a picture of the happy-gram I received in 1988 for “appropriate attire in physical education class” as I was in physically having the happy-gram. In fact, I am pretty sure that when I’m dead and people are going through my belongings that if said happy-gram was still among my possessions, that whomever was going through my stuff would put said happy-gram in the trash anyway. Replacing the physical happy-gram with a digital photo of it that exists in the cloud does not in any way diminish the lessons I learned by dressing appropriately for gym in 1988. I have 14 marathon medals, and many of those were earned in inclement weather. I am pretty sure I am well versed in being able to dress myself for participation in physical activity.

While something such as a happy-gram seems quite innocuous, I did try to keep in mind (forgive the morbidity, but we’re talking about demon snuggling here) that someday someone will be going through my stuff after I am dead and gone. What type of burden do you want to leave for that person? It is going to be hard enough for loved ones to deal with the fact that you have passed on, do not give them the added chore of needing to spend months or even years going through all of your stuff and trying to figure out what to do with it.

Keep in mind that what is left behind after you die is also a part of your legacy. Your most intimate possessions tell a part of your legacy. What do you want your legacy to say about you? Do you want your legacy to say you had a whole bunch of things hoarded from the 1980s (as people find your old band outfit and track ribbons)? Or do you want your legacy to say you had a full, active life full of adventure (as people go through your luggage and sporting equipment). What you have is not as important as what you do or how you make people feel. How you make people feel is your greatest legacy, and hopefully you have the chance to touch some hearts along the way.

Back to demon snuggling.

Many of the items in my “growing up” box were not there for the happy sentimental feelings they evoked. Rather, there were many things in that box that brought to mind painful memories, and made me sad, mad or hurt. For some reason, it is easier to snuggle with our demons than it is to kick them to the curb. It was actually more challenging to rid myself of the items that evoked negative emotion than to contemplate whether or not something brings me joy.

Life is too short to be unhappy.

I do not need reminders of times in my life in which I felt pain or was not happy. Yes, those are parts of my life that happened and I must own. Just because I accept and admit that they happened does not mean I need a constant reminder or slap in the face to remind me of what I have endured or overcome. Many times we demon snuggle because it is easier to live with the pain than it is to process that pain and come through the other side. Pretty much anyone who has faced their demons in life fails to come through unscathed. However, the triumph of facing demons far outweighs a few scars.

I am not sure why demon snuggling is so easy. It is counter-intuitive that it is harder to part with pain than it is to part with joy. I don’t have enough time or space to figure that one out.

I will say that downsizing sentimental items is challenging. Setting a limit on what number or type of container you want to hold onto is helpful. For me, I wanted to downsize from a 50-quart box to a 10-quart one. Maybe you have three boxes of stuff from growing up and want to downsize to one. Maybe you are struggling with all of your children’s treasures that you are saving for when they leave the nest someday.

Taking photos of items such as artwork and certificates is helpful because they can be stored digitally without taking up space. The less space taken up by paper products means more room for teddy bears and action figures.

How do you deal with sentimental items? Do you find some items evoke negative emotions? Have you figured out a system or a way to cap the treasures you keep? Just because you dragged that Care Bear everywhere does not mean that your children will do the same. They will have their own cherished object that goes everywhere with them.

Are you snuggling with your demons or have you kicked them to the curb? As I strive to only have things in my life that are either useful or that bring me joy, I am happy that I am able to recognize when I am demon snuggling so that I can kick them to the curb.

 

 

 

Lines in the Sand

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New years is always that huge page turned in the book of life that represents a new chapter of opportunity. Many make (and break) resolutions as hope for a better future, a brighter year.

A new calendar on the wall is not the only opportunity for change. Many resolutions fail due to the inordinate amount of pressure placed on a certain day of the year. While there may be some astronomical significance to the date, it is, in fact, arbitrary.

A new goal can start any time of year, not just January 1. Choose a Monday, choose your birthday, choose any day on the calendar and draw a circle around it.

What do you want life to look like? What is reality? What positive changes can you enact to make reality align more with your desires? Keep in mind that the journey is just as significant as the destination. I often say I know what I want, but I don’t know how to get there. The beauty of life is that we each have our unique process of reaching our goals.

Dates on the calendar are simply lines we draw in the sand to delineate change. Change in actions, change in attitudes. January 1 holds a lot of pressure. Many times if people break their New Year’s Resolutions, they shrug their shoulders and proclaim, “there’s always next year.” Yes, there is always next year. There is also tomorrow.

If you have made resolutions for this new year and they do not make it past January, you do not have to admit defeat and wait for a new year to start fresh. Those goals you so boldly proclaimed on December 31 or January 1 can be realized at any time of year. Just try again.

If you are able to make it through the month of January without breaking the resolution, chances are that you have made a life change that will stick. Usually major changes in habit take about 3 weeks to firmly root into one’s routine.

I have not made any resolutions for the new year. The new year tends to be meaningless for me for a few reasons. First, after 20 years in college, I seem to be stuck on the school year calendar. Labor Day weekend is the most meaningful time of year for me. That is when leaves start to turn, the last light of summer fades into fall, and a new school year is typically set to begin.

Second, I consider birthdays to be more meaningful than a simple change in page of the calendar. Each birthday is proof that I was able to handle another year of what life threw at me. When I turned 36 in March of 2015, my wish was for a quiet year. After tumultuous times the two years prior, I have been looking for some respite from the tribulations I have lived through. So far, I have gotten it. But the new year is not the reset for me. My birthday in March will determine the success or failure of that goal for the year.

As many approach the month of January with hope that things will improve, keep in mind that things can improve any time of the year. January is just one line in the sand. Feel free to draw your own. If you are not able to keep your resolutions to which you have so dutifully pledged, that does not mean all is lost until the next flip of the calendar. Take some time to evaluate why your plan was not successful and regroup. The only true way to fail is to stop trying.

New Year’s is only one line in the sand. The masterpiece comes in creating your own.